I must admit that it doesn’t hurt to sometimes look for something on the brighter side… Such is the case with one of my new favorite bands, LA duo Cobalt Cranes, who have recently started to let go of the garage sound found on their 2010 EP, In Media Rez, for something a little bit sunnier, melding psych rock with shoegaze, for something that resembles the 90s’ best kind of fuzzy alt. rock. I recently got a chance to chat with Cobalt Cranes’ Tim Foley and Kate Betuel. Tim simply describes Cobalt Cranes aesthetic as, “Blending our love of 70s sounds with modern sounds,” while Kate adds, “We’re children of the 90s and we’re very inspired by a lot of the sounds coming out at that time.”
Joining a bevy of my favorite acts of 2013, Cobalt Cranes recently released their latest album on tape. On October 1st the band re-released their debut LP, Head in the Clouds (which dropped this past spring), on cassette, courtesy of Dallas Distortion Music. So I had to ask them about their take on contemporary music consumption (accompanied by a bit of my ranting about refusing to go digital and preferring cassettes to both vinyl and CDs), however, their views on it aren’t quite so radical. “I think it’s funny because it’s so divided,” Kate tells me, before going on to say, “I like that there are so many formats now because there are so many ways to find out about music. I’m not against it. I’m not like, ‘Oh, it’s modern, it must be crap,’” and finally concluding, “There’s so many ways to consume music now and I really like that.” Tim, who seems to also have a special affinity for tapes, tells me, “With a cassette, it’s like a collector’s item – you can hold it and it’s kind of hard to skip through songs, so you have to listen to it in the order it was intended.”
Cobalt Cranes have released a small bevy of music videos to accompany tracks from Head in the Clouds, most recently “Indigo.” The videos all resemble the kinds of beauty to be found on the likes of 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation two decades ago. I tell them this and they laugh and agree that that period did, indeed, provide a lot of their favorite sounds and images. When I ask what inspired the videos and if there are any music videos they’re especially fond of, Tim tells me, “Some of those early Smashing Pumpkins videos are really cool,” with Kate adding, “When it comes to visual arts, we’re really into that psychedelic collage look of the 60s, but we’re also very playful. We always like to put a little humor into the things that we do.”
In addition to their music videos, Cobalt Cranes’ sartorial displays are also quite stylishly alluring, resembling postmodern gypsy road-trippers. I ask them about their clothing and a very enthusiastic Kate tells me, “I’ve always loved vintage clothing… But when you’re in a situation where you don’t have a lot of money and you need to make a video, the easiest thing is to just wear something interesting. So you’ll take $30 to a thrift store and sometimes you’ll find something ridiculous, but it will be really cool in some way.” When it comes to Tim, he tells me that he very much digs the styles of 1970s LA and a lot of Rock’N’Roll acts of the same era, like Led Zeppelin.
Cobalt Cranes have already spent a significant portion of 2013 on the road, which they tell me has been the highlight of the year. “We’ve done a lot of touring, so we’ve gotten to see a lot of places we’ve never seen and we’ve gotten to play with a lot of really cool bands,” Tim Tells me. Kate adds, “That’s been the high point for us and the most fun. It’s just so much fun getting to see new cities.” And they’re currently on a string of dates that will bring them to Kung Fu Necktie on Tuesday, October 15th. According to the band, not only are they sounding their best to-date, but upcoming live dates will feature a few glimpses of what’s to come of their sound. “We’re pretty excited about our live lineup. This is the second tour we’ve done with them and we even have some new songs that aren’t on the album,” Tim tells me, before Kate adds, “We cut the fat a little bit. It’s a really rocking set now.” And after this tour wraps, at the end of the month, the band plan on getting back into the studio for a while, and then doing it all over again. “We would love to be able to keep doing what we’re doing,” Tim says, before adding, “There’ll be a new EP in the near future. We’re probably going to get back in the studio once we get back home, but then we’ll probably just get back out there on the road.” Kate confirms, “We just want to play for as many people as possible. I mean, just doing what you love is so much fun.”